Hedione Luminous Jasmine : Fragrance Ingredient

Jasmine_grand What makes a perfect jasmine perfume? Jasmine absolute contains more than 300 different components, and traditionally, inspiration comes from the constituents identified. The aromachemicals would be combined in such a way as to replicate the fruity, flowery and animalic facets of jasmine, with additional green notes for capturing jasmine sambac. The effect of hedione (Firmenich tradename, also known as methyl dihydrojasmonate) on jasmine notes can be compared to a sunray hitting a flower. Given its ability to lend a radiant, warm quality to the floral notes, the perfume history of the last thirty years is incomplete without a discussion of hedione.

The name Hedione is derived from the Greek word “hedone,” which means pleasure–a fitting moniker for this luminous and compelling note. The material was discovered by Firmenich researcher Edouard Demole as he was analyzing the composition of jasmine essence. Hedione combines remarkably well with various perfumery materials, and its first significant usage of 2% was seen in Christian Dior Eau Sauvage, created by Edmond Roudnitska in 1966. A layer of luminous jasmine against the backdrop of herbs, patchouli, woods and coumarin makes Eau Sauvage revolutionary in its ability to interpret floral notes in the domain of masculine perfumery. …

The influence of Eau Sauvage was felt in the coming years, with fragrances like Eau de Rochas and Ô de Lancôme, among many others, deriving inspiration from its refined aura.

Another Roudnitska’s fragrance that heavily relied on hedione was Christian Dior Diorella (1972), an elegant composition pairing a peachy quality of aldehyde C14 (same one as was used in Guerlain Mitsouko) against a veil of diffusive green jasmine, with the entire arrangement supported by a chypre base of patchouli, oakmoss and vetiver. Dominated by floral and patchouli notes, Diorella almost begets a category of its own, despite the fact that it is often classified as chypre. Clinique Aromatics Elixir launched in the same year as Diorella explores a similar combination of hedione and patchouli, adding a heavier touch of rose and lily of the valley to the arrangement.

In 1976, Jean-Claude Ellena’s beautiful floral bouquet, First by Van Cleef&Arpels incorporated an even larger of percentage of hedione in its formula, lending a radiant shimmering quality to the composition that almost makes it seem as if flowers unfold slowly on the skin. Finally, in 1998, Martine Pallix created Comme de Garçons Odeur 53, which contains the highest percentage of hedione on the market, making up more than half of the formula.

Hedione, like another larger molecule material Iso E Super, possesses not only high diffusion, but also tenacity. As it evaporates, hedione seems to remain in the air, which is an important quality, making it one of the most popular perfume materials. It is used to accent many compositions, therefore it is next to impossible to list all of the fragrances containing hedione. Interestingly enough, some marketing descriptions tend to include it among the notes, such as Kenzo Flower (wild hawthorn, Bulgarian rose, parma violet, cassia, hedione, white musk and vanilla), Pure Perfume by Jil Sander (hedione, wild cyclamens and green notes), Lauren Style by Ralph Lauren, and Gai Mattiolo Uomo, to name a few.

References: Calkin, Robert and J. Stephan Jellinek. Perfumery: Practice and Principles. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York, 1994. Kraft, P.; Bajgrowicz, J. A.; Denis, C.; Fráter, G. Odds and Trends: Recent Developments in the Chemistry of Odorants, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2000, 39, 2980–3010.

Enjoyed this? Get blog posts via email:

Or, stay updated via:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • RSS

20 Comments

  • parislondres: Lovely post dear V! I can see why hedione is popular amongst perfumers as is Iso E Super!! October 26, 2005 at 4:06am Reply

  • Håkan Nellmar: A wonderful, informative read. Thank you. October 26, 2005 at 4:46am Reply

  • linda: Aha! The similarity I see between Eau Sauvage and Diorella is better understood now. Thank you for this informative article. October 26, 2005 at 10:22am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: N, thank you. It is certainly one of the most widely employed materials. October 26, 2005 at 10:53am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Håkan, thank you. I am glad that you liked it! October 26, 2005 at 10:53am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Linda, yes, they definitely share some notes in common, although there is about 10% of hedione in Diorella and 2% in Eau Sauvage. October 26, 2005 at 10:54am Reply

  • Tania: All I can think is of you breaking a vial of it in your apartment and suffering through a miasma of hedione. For all that, you are a remarkably levelheaded and forgiving woman to pen this appreciation of an ingredient without which modern perfumery would not be so modern. Excellent piece. October 26, 2005 at 11:04am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: T, I think that in that case hedione was not the only issue, as it is not a particularly strong scent on its own. It is more of a feeling it has. However, shattering a vial of aldehyde C-18 around the same time certainly was a horrid experience. What is more, I smelled it for weeks and weeks afterwards.

    Glad that you liked the piece! October 26, 2005 at 11:12am Reply

  • mreenymo: I tried looking this one up in the dictionary, but it was not in there.

    Thank you for defining it so aptly for me, darling!

    Hugs! October 26, 2005 at 11:33am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: R, very glad to be of help! It is my pleasure. October 26, 2005 at 11:36am Reply

  • Tania: You must be more careful with your vials, young lady! October 26, 2005 at 1:11pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Yes, I have to be! I also need to have my own lab. That would simplify matters greatly. This way my living would not smell of whatever the latest thing I am studying. :) October 26, 2005 at 1:33pm Reply

  • Evan: Ah Cyclopentaneacetic acid, 3-oxo-2-pentyl-, methyl ester! Hedione does sound better. I applaud you for exploring perfumery materials on your site, particularly the synthetic aroma chemicals. I am constantly annoyed at the ill-informed distrust and bias against synthetic materials among the general public. It was synthetics that enabled perfumery to move from descriptive to narrative to abstraction. When used in harmony with natural (botanical) materials, synthetics like Hedione can make jasmine or other florals sing, like the dabs of lead-tin yellow and white that give the spark of life to Rembrandt’s portraits. When used to save money, they can be a harsh, limp, offensive cloud. I think it’s the insensitive, budget minded overuse of certain chemicals (Calone!) that turns so many people against them. But when they are used in a way that highlights their strengths and understands their various limitations, it’s magic.

    I agree with your description of Hedione being subtle, almost like a feeling more than a smell, which is what brought the analogy to highlights in a painting to mind. Eau Savage is of course the perfume I think of in association with Hedione. I didn’t know Odeur 53 was >50% Hedione! Are there other perfumes you really associate with Hedione? I smell it a lot in Beyond Paradise. October 26, 2005 at 7:36pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Evan, thank you! I love your reference to Rembrandt, because it is wonderfully appropriate. Replicating a scent of a flower (and some flowers in particular) can be almost impossible without synthetics. Lilac, hyacinth, lily of the valley are such examples, as the flowers do not produce a decent smell via extraction processes. Of course, synthetics also vary, as there are cheap and very expensive, harsh and delicate, plain and multifaceted. It is difficult to generalize.

    Hedione is in so many fragrances these days. Besides, you also have Cepionate, Kharismal, Super Cepionate, Hedione HC, which vary based on the percentage of u isomers of hedione, which affect the odour intensity. I believe that hedione HC was the one used in Ck One, and it may also have been used in Beyond Paradise (and Pleasures). October 26, 2005 at 9:46pm Reply

  • Rafael: Great review! I’m a big fan of Hedione. I think that sort of jasmine-citric duality it possesses makes it simply great. According to its manufacturer, Hedione HC has a strength far superior to that of the classical Hedione and due to its high Cis concentration, avoids the ‘dilution’ effect given by Hedione when used at high levels. However, its thermodynamic instability limits it to fine fragrance uses only.
    I always dreamed of a masculine perfume with lots of in the formulation. Have you heard of any? November 4, 2005 at 10:31am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Rafael, thank you! Hedione is fascinating as on its own it would not have much to recommend itself, yet in combination with other notes, it begins to glow. What you mentioned about Hedione HC is exactly what I recall reading as well.

    As for masculine fragrances with hedione, there are of course Christian Dior Eau Sauvage and Comme de Garcons Odeur 53 (a large quantity here), which I mentioned. Others are Azzaro Pour Homme, Calvin Klein Truth for Men, Ralph Lauren Purple Label, and I am sure there are lots of more, although I am still working my way through the male fragrance market. November 4, 2005 at 11:51am Reply

  • darcy: Givenchy Amarige also loaded with hedione…I love it. August 27, 2011 at 4:13pm Reply

  • Rain Adkins: Hedione is lovely, though not near so lovely to me as real jasmine, found blooming on a summer night and tucked into my hair. Query, though: I understand what you mean by scent as description and scent as abstraction, but what do you mean by scent as narrative, other than a purely anthropo- or gynomorphic tale told about a fragrance (“She who had never had a lover wore lilac in token of her sunny innocence”, etc.)? June 13, 2013 at 8:24pm Reply

  • shane: “Laboratory tests commissioned by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics revealed 38 secret chemicals in 17 name-brand fragrance products, compounds detected in tests but not listed on labels. Of 38 undisclosed chemicals in the 17 fragrance products assessed: At least 6 other undisclosed compounds have three or fewer published toxicity studies,
    or have been deemed by a government agency to be completely lacking toxicity data
    for critical health risks of concern, such as cancer or birth defects. One notable example
    is the jasmine-scented chemical called hedione (methyl dihydrojasmonate), one of the most commonly used fragrances in perfumes and colognes. PubMed contains only one
    published toxicity study on hedione (Politano 2008), even though more than 1,000 metric
    tons of the fragrance compound are used every year worldwide.” – Heather Sarantis, MS, Commonweal; Olga V.
    Naidenko, PhD, Sean Gray, MS, and Jane Houlihan,
    MSCE, Environmental Working Group; and
    Stacy Malkan, Campaign for Safe Cosmetics January 15, 2014 at 9:31pm Reply

    • Victoria: The materials are undisclosed on labels, because they passed the toxicity tests and were shown to be safe, per current fragrance regulations. You can consult http://www.ifraorg.org/ for more information on the regulations, tests, etc. January 16, 2014 at 4:43am Reply

What do you think?

From the Archives

Latest Comments

Latest Tweets

Design by cre8d
© Copyright 2005-2014 Bois de Jasmin. All rights reserved.